Uno Masahide


Uno Clan


Harima Province

Lifespan:  Ōei 28 (1421) (?) to 10/25 of Bunki 2 (1502)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Uno

Lord:  Akamatsu Masanori

Siblings:  文渓聖才 (abbot of the Kennin Temple in Kyōto), Masahide

Children: Norisada

Uno Masahide served as a bushō during the Muromachi and Sengoku periods.  Masahide was a member of the Akamatsu family and sixth generation grandchild of Akamatsu Norisuke. Masahide served as the lord of Shioya Castle (also known as Enya Castle).  He was also known as Akamatsu Masahide, while his grandson, Akamatsu Masahide, carried the same name.  Despite having the Akamatsu name, there are uncertainties regarding his origins.

Restoration of the Akamatsu clan

Masahide first appears in records when he acted in concert with Akamatsu Norinao in 1454 to raise arms for the purpose of reviving the Akamatsu cIan.  These actions were suppressed by Yamana Sōzen in 1455 when Norinao was forced to kill himself.  With the Yamana army in pursuit, Masahide evaded and then concealed himself from the enemy.  Later, Akamatsu Masanori was appointed military governor of one-half of Kaga Province owing to his contributions to recover the Yasakani no Magatama, one of the three sacred Imperial Regalia of Japan during the Chōroku Disturbance (Chōroku no hen).  In this incident, which occurred toward the end of 1457, remnants of the Akamatsu clan attacked the provisional palace of leaders of the post-Southern Court, killing Emperor Takahide and Emperor Tadayoshi, brothers of imperial descent who had aimed for independence from the unification of the Northern and Southern Courts that occurred in 1392.  Following the revival of the Akamatsu clan, Masahide became a retainer.

In Kyōto, Uragami Norimune served as the deputy chief of the samurai-dokoro, or office of security and military affairs.  In this capacity, he served as an advisor to Akamatsu Masanori, the young head of the clan.  Masahide joined Hori Hideyo and others to head toward the former territory of the Akamatsu in Harima Province that came under the governance of the Yamana after the Kakitsu Disturbance.  After assembling former retainers of the Akamatsu to resist the Yamana, Masahide rapidly garnered control of Harima.  Toward the end of 1467, he issued written directives including licenses to exempt designated categories of persons from taxes and levies.  Masahide maintained his rule until an invasion by the Yamana in 1483.

Masahide participated on behalf of the Eastern Army in the Ōnin-Bunmei War, fighting in the Kinai Region.  In 1469, he joined the army of Yamana Koretoyo, the military governor of Bingo Province.  Koretoyo was the second son of Sōzen and acted in opposition to his father.  Koretoyo defeated an army led by Ōuchi Masahiro in Hyōgo in Settsu Province.  From 1471, Masahide, along with Uno Kōzuke-Nyūdō and Uragami Norimune were assigned to defend Yamazaki Castle in Yamashiro Province, located on a strategic transportation route.  In the autumn of 1472, the defenders suffered a surprise attack by Hatakaeyama Yoshinari and abandoned the castle.

The Battle of Fukuoka

Matsuda Motonari, an influential hikan of the Akamatsu clan, served as lord of Kanagawa Castle in the western portion of Bizen Province.  Late in 1483, Motonari colluded with Yamana Masatoyo who sought to reclaim land that had earlier been seized by the Akamatsu.  Together, Motonari and Masatoyo launched a surprise attack against generals allied with the Akamatsu, including Kogamo Yamato-no-kami and Kushihashi Norikore, who were sheltered in Fukuoka Castle, the residence of the military governor for Bizen.  At this time, Uragami Norimune was in Kyōto, while his son, Uragami Norikuni, was with the others in Fukuoka Castle.  Outnumbered, the defenders appealed to Akamatsu Masanori for reinforcements.

Masanori responded by assembling troops for Masahide and Uragami Norikage (Norimune’s son) to initiate a counterattack in Bizen in support of the defenders.  Masanori himself deployed to Tajima Province to engage the Yamana.  However, after Masahide and Norikage advanced to Katakami, news spread that Masanori had been defeated by the Yamana at the Ikuno Ridge and fled to Himeji.  Masahide and Norikage then ceased the advance toward Fukuoka Castle and returned with their men to protect Harima.  By the time that Masahide’s army returned to Harima, the Akamatsu army had already been routed.  Early in 1484, Fukuoka Castle was captured by the allied forces of the Matsuda and Yamana.  Moreover, the Yamana forces in Tajima took advantage of their defeat of Masanori to storm Harima.  These events shook the prestige of the Akamatsu family in their domain of Harima, Bizen, and Mimasaka provinces.

Amidst these dire circumstances, early in 1484, Uragami Norimune returned to Harima, solicited kokujin, or local landowners of influence, who had lost faith in Masanori, and reassembled an army.  Masanori took refuge in the city of Sakai in Izumi Province.  Having eliminated Masanori, and taken over control of the Akamatsu clan, Norimune then consulted with Kodera Norimoto to have the son of Arima Norihide, Keijumaru, become successor to the clan.  He further endeavored to have this recognized by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth shōgun, but the petition was rejected.  Although Masahide did not participate in the scheme, the events triggered divisions among the kokujin governed by the Akamatsu in Harima, with some switching sides to the Yamana while others vied for a new leader for the Akamatsu.  The main base of the Uragami at Mitsuishi Castle was surrounded for a period, creating a crisis for the Akamatsu.

In the spring of 1485, Masanori came out of hiding in Kyōto, and, with the backing of the bakufu army, attacked and captured Kageki Castle in Harima to launch a comeback.  Upon hearing this news in Kyōto, Masahide joined others to visit Kisen Shūshō, a monk, at his quarters at the Shōkoku Temple to celebrate owing to the ties of this temple to Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the shōgun.  Following this event, Masahide and Norimune formally reconciled with Masanori, and came under his command again.  After a while, Masahide entered the priesthood and assumed the name of Kōchin-kenshōki.  Thereafter, his son, Akamatsu Norisada, took over responsibility for the role of deputy district governor.

In 1488, Fukuoka Castle was recaptured, while the Yamana army ended its advance into Harima and returned to their home territory.  The conflict between the Akamatsu and Yamana that had persisted for over six years came to a close.  Owing to contributions in battles against the Yamana, Masanori appointed Bessho Noriharu to serve as the deputy military governor of eight districts in eastern Harima.  This resulted in a commensurate reduction in the territory governed by Masahide as deputy military governor of western Harima.

Succession struggle

In 1496, Masanori suddenly died of illness, after which Akamatsu Yoshimura (his son-in-law) became the tenth head of the clan.  However, owing to Masanori’s sudden death, Yoshimura’s succession may not have been a result of the wishes of Masanori as much as those of senior retainers who wielded power in the Akamatsu clan at the time, including Uragami Norimune, Bessho Noriharu, Kodera Norimoto, Yakushiji Takayo, and Akamatsu Norisada.  While Yoshimura was young at the time of his succession, his wife (Komeshi) was eighteen when Yoshimura was adopted by Masanori, and Yoshimura is believed to have been a similar age.  Nevertheless, the abrupt end of Masanori’s term led to confusion within the clan, resulting in an internal conflict over the issue of succession, known as the Harima Disturbance (Banshū no sakuran) or Katsunori’s coup d’etat.  During this event, Norimune, a clan elder and deputy military governor, supported Yoshimura, while Uragami Murakuni backed Akamatsu Katsunori.   Finally, Masanori’s widow (Tōshōin) and adoptive mother of Yoshimura, aligned with Bessho Noriharu.  Noriharu was concerned that if Yoshimura became the successor, Norimune would take advantage of his youth to become further autocratic, so it was premature to grant full authority to Yoshimura.  Therefore, he recommended that Tōshōin serve as the interim head with the backing of Hosokawa Masamoto, the deputy shōgun, until Yoshimura matured.

In 1499,  Uragami Murakuni joined with Akamatsu Katsunori against Uragami Norimune in a revolt known as the East-West Battle of Harima (Tōzai-toriai kassen).  Norimune narrowly escaped owing to a valiant defense by Ukita Yoshiie, taking Yoshimura to Shioya Castle held by Masahide.  While providing shelter to Norimune, Masahide backed Yoshimura as the successor.  Masahide then directed Tōji Sakyō-no-suke to attack Murakuni, while Masahide himself went to Kyōto to request mediation by Hosokawa Masamoto and an Imperial edict for a cessation of hostilities from Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the eleventh shōgun.  The family members eventually reconciled, with Yoshimura becoming the successor.  In 1502, Masahide died at an old age, while Tōshōin continued to serve an influential role in the clan alongside Yoshimura.